While we are certainly more comfortable in our modern age, there could be a darker side to all this unparalleled convenience and indoor living. Humans today are losing their integral touch with nature and the results are diminished health and mental capacity. But there is a ray of hope and a practical solution to this: getting outside more!
Scientific studies have shown that spending time outdoors not only improves health, but generally makes humans more amicable, creative, and positive in the way of relating and respond to the world and our environments. A study conducted in Finland illustrated this by examining the differences between people in a typical urban setting, city park, and deep forest.
The study showed that after only 15 minutes in a natural setting, like a forest, the participants began to feel notably calmer and psychologically restored. As they walked about and immersed themselves in their natural settings, those in the park and forest felt an increase in their feelings well-being accompanied by a surge of creativity and inspiration.1
15 minutes a day in the outdoors with fresh air and sunshine are all it takes to begin accumulating the benefits of outdoor living. So, let’s take a look at a few great ideas for incorporating and maximizing the benefits and enjoyment from a healthy quarter of an hour in your day.
What natural gymnasiums are close to your work or home? 15 to 25 minutes of daily exercise in the park, oceans, or hillsides promises unparalleled returns on investment in the future. Even just a brisk walk will elevate the heart rate, engage the lungs, fire up the metabolism and get brain juices flowing.
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But you can also hop on your bike, SUP board, rollerblades, or skateboard and take a trip through your local area. A fitness scavenger hunt is another good option, look for park benches, monkey bars, and other obstacles or weighty objects that can be used for pull-ups, pushups, crunches, and other exercises. Increase your output with each daily 15 minute routine for increased strength, stamina, and physique.
If you have a passion for things green and growing, you will not regret taking up this engaging and healthy practice. Gardening has powerful benefits for mental acuity and brain preservation. It directly reduces the presence of cortisol in the body. Furthermore, gardening provides endless satisfaction cultivating tender young shoots that begin to flourish into beautiful blossoms or edible orbs of goodness.
And you can absolutely begin this rewarding hobby in only 15 minutes a day with time to spare. Start small if you have no experience. You can grow a fine crop of cherry tomatoes or attractive azaleas in a 10-gallon bucket. As your gardening venture grows, it will always fit perfectly in that 15-minute window unless you choose to increase your investment of time and bountiful rewards.
Go for a Walk
One of the simplest ways to get your daily 15 minutes outside is to take a walk through some attractive areas nearest you. Walking allows you to soak up some sunlight and healthy vitamin D while filling the lungs with fresh air and oxygenating the blood. Plus, there are so many ways to enhance the enjoyment of a pleasant stroll.
Improving the company is foremost, and what better company than your very own four-legged canine counterpart. A daily walk is essential for taking care of daily necessities, building a healthy body as well as ameliorating hostility and misbehavior in dogs and humans alike. If you don’t have a dog, maybe you have a friend, neighbor, or co-worker who would also benefit from an invigorating trip outdoors.
If you are fortunate enough to live in an environment replete with trees and wooded areas, don’t pass up the opportunity to combat stress and improve longevity with healthy Shinrin Yoku, or forest bathing. This practice is all about immersing the mind and senses in the natural surroundings of a forest.
Proponents of the practice and scientific evidence have shown that being in the forest balances the conditions of mind and body. This counterbalances the highly artificial surroundings which we inhabit day to day and has great benefits for immune function and mental performance.
Yoga and Martial Arts
Taking 15 minutes to engage the body and restore the balance of energy can boost endurance, cognitive function, and keep the body comfortable during the strenuous effort. Both yoga and various practices of martial arts involve a progression of movements and postures that engage the entire body and can be completed a few times in just 15 minutes.
While it is nice to get some qualified instruction, tutorials are available and can provide extensive knowledge on the basics of form and execution. Even a short time spent mastering yoga poses, spinning a Bo staff or practicing the movements in Tai Chi can go a long way toward mastering these arts. Plus, they are also lots of fun and a good way to increase agility, flexibility, and posture.
Rest and Relaxation Outside!
Finally, just about any other activity you especially enjoy can be done outside with a healthy helping sunshine and natural exposure. Outside there are beautiful asymmetrical forms and soothing colors that can relieve strain from a constricted indoor atmosphere.
Use your outdoor environments to break the artificial routines and provide the mind with free room to launch the imagination. Reading a book, listening to music and even taking a nap on the soft grass beneath the shady boughs of a tree is a perfect way to relax and a moment of a carefree life. To take your outdoor relaxation to a whole new level, consider getting a hammock for lazy summer afternoons.
Final Notes on Spending More Time Outdoors
If you will be heading outside, whether in your own backyard or to the wilds of the forest, be sure you consider your safety. Stay hydrated, use sunscreen, and apply insect repellent if needed and always tell a trusted someone where you will be and when you expect to return.
Photo credits: oatawa/shutterstock.com, AlexanderRaths/shutterstock.com, JacobLund/shutterstock.com, naturephotos/shutterstock.com, MINDANDI/shutterstock.com